Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts has recently announced that Dr. Louise Lewin, Associate Principal, Student Services for the past 12 years is handing over her position at the end of the academic year to Dr. Rosanna Furgiuele, long-time member of Glendon’s faculty and currently Chair of Glendon’s French Studies Department.
Lewin holds an Honours B.A. from Atkinson (York University); an M.Ed. and Ph.D. from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE - U. of T.). Working at York University since 1970 in various academic, leadership and administrative positions, she was the first person to fill the position in its current format, whose precursor was Dean of Students, reporting directly to the President of York University. Dyane Adam, then Principal of Glendon - and later Official Languages Commissioner of Canada – recognized the importance of having a person on campus in charge of the complete student experience for purposes of student retention and for a truly positive university experience.
Right: Louise Lewin
“It was a very avant-garde transformation at the time”, says Lewin, “making this a Glendon portfolio comprising every aspect of the student experience, be it academic integrity, student clubs, the student newspaper and radio station, and all social and cultural activities.” Lewin trail-blazed into several new directions, notably international exchanges and international students on campus. With over 160 international students at Glendon today, the responsibilities have grown and new accommodations had to be developed. “We started an International Students’ Club and hired a student to run it,” says Lewin. She and her team also developed an extensive orientation program specifically aimed at international students, enhancing the services that were already in place.
Lewin has travelled overseas several times to sign exchange agreements with other universities. “The services that exchange students need represent a mixture of academic and student life”, says Lewin. And it starts with a very careful selection process, interviewing each student to ensure that they are academically sound, linguistically competent, informed about course selections and the financial implications, and prepared for the inevitable culture shock. When Lewin took on the position, there were four agreements in place. Today, Glendon boasts 19 agreements, among them France, Belgium, Mexico, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Spain, with more in the works.
The core services of the Associate Principal’s portfolio continue to thrive and expand. They include career and counselling services, athletics, student financial services, student affairs (a sector overseeing residence life, student conduct and critical events, international student services, orientation, support for student organizations and student clubs, health education and convocation assistance), arts and culture - which encompasses the gallery, the theatre, the Glendon Musical Ensemble, and special events such as the Semaine Francophone (Francophone Week); the list goes on.
“I am a strong supporter of the arts and culture as an integral part of a liberal arts education”, affirms Lewin. Her support was instrumental in the start-up of the Glendon Musical Ensemble. It boasts 40 members today, comprised of singers and instrumentalists, who create several programs each year tailored to the talents at hand.
Lewin is also devoted to the notion of inter-collaboration among her constituencies, combining forces with academic departments. Recent examples are the gallery’s collaboration with the Glendon Economics Department in the Expo ’67 project; presenting five projects between 1999 and 2004 with the Glendon Hispanic Studies Department (Ana Soler Baena Exhibition; Embodiments; Argentina – Where They Went To; Indigenous Peoples; and the Chile Exchange, Otros Quijotes); annual projects with Glendon’s visual art classes; and Dom Juan with the Glendon’s Drama Studies.
Collaborative projects with services on the Keele campus have also been a priority. One example is the provision of targeted services for mature students, in collaboration with similar services on the Keele campus. Lewin’s department is also working together with the Student Community and Leadership Development Office at Keele on residence life, issues of student leadership and student conduct, and dispute resolutions. For Lewin, collaboration at all levels is key.
Left: Rosanna Furgiuele
Lewin has been a constant Glendon presence, having lived on campus for ten years, from 1998 to 2008. “I wasn’t just overseeing student activities, I have been a regular participant in them.” For all these years, her home has been open to all of Glendon, welcoming international students, residence dons and members of her staff to dinners and warm, informal gatherings. She attends artistic and cultural events regularly; she knows the students and they turn to her with confidence and affection.
Lewin is an energetic generator of ideas. In 1998, she added the newly-created position of Alumni and Communications Coordinator to her portfolio. This jump-started Glendon’s alumni activities, reconnecting with Glendon’s graduates and welcoming them back to the campus. On the communications side, her support for the publication of RSVP - an annual Glendon alumni magazine, and Imagine - a monthly internal newsletter featuring activities by staff and faculty, spoke of her recognition that communications is an essential part of community-building. She established a Peer Mentorship Program, pairing upper-year students with first-year students, thus helping new students adjust to university life. She was also the originator of Glendon’s Alumni Mentorship program with the aim of facilitating mentoring relationships between alumni and current students as a catalyst for professional development.
Lewin has overseen the expansion of academic accommodation for students with disabilities. Working together with faculty members, the administration, counselling services and the students themselves, today arrangements are made on an individual need basis. The program was initially small; during the current academic year close to 400 alternate arrangements have been made by Lewin’s staff for quizzes, mid-term and final exams, enabling students to fulfill their requirements under circumstances supporting their needs.
“When I took on this position, my vision was to ensure that students have a memorable, positive experience during their Glendon stay”, says Lewin. Today, she still subscribes to the same vision but acknowledges how much more complex all these activities have become. “I am delighted with the choice of my successor and undertake to provide all the information and help I can to enable her to carry forward with this portfolio through a smooth transition.” As of next July, Lewin is taking on a new position which builds directly on her Glendon expertise: she will be Academic Director of the Ontario / Rhône-Alpes Student Exchange program keeping her in contact with students and their study-abroad activities.
Meanwhile, the transfer of information is already underway, with Lewin and Furgiuele meeting regularly for briefing sessions in anticipation of the changeover during the summer. Rosanna Furgiuele is no stranger to administration. In addition to chairing the French Studies Department, she is currently also Director of Glendon’s French Language Program and Coordinator of the Bilingual Program. She has organized two French competitions (Concours de français) in the past at Glendon and has participated in a number of departmental and faculty committees. She has also coordinated student exchange programs between Glendon and universities in France, Belgium and Quebec - a direct link to her future activities as Coordinator, Glendon Student Exchanges.
Furgiuele has a Ph.D. in French-Canadian Literature from the University of Toronto and teaches French language and literature at Glendon. She expresses a deep interest in curriculum design and development, and has published several French-language manuals in use at various Canadian and U.S. universities. She has just completed 25 years of service at York University, initially teaching on the Keele campus, where she also worked on the Study Abroad Program.
“The greatest satisfaction of the new position [of Associate Principal, Student Services] will be the continued close contact with students”, says Furgiuele. In fact, all her previous functions have involved a great deal of student contact and she is well-prepared for advising and problem-solving with students at the centre of activities. She favours an open-door policy for students, as well as for the team she will be leading. “I believe in listening to students and giving them a voice. It is important for Student Services to be in touch with what is happening within the student community.”
“I am lucky to have such solid foundations to build on”, says Furgiuele, “to inherit such a well-oiled machine”. With close to 25 managers and staff in the team, she recognizes the need to be flexible, to adapt to changes as they present themselves. She also realizes that she will face a number of challenges, including the current financial constraints under which the university labours.
However, Furgiuele is confident in the excellence and experience of the Student Services team, and will rely on their help and support in her new role. Her approach blends perfectly with Lewin’s in being open and welcoming to students, as well as in working in a collaborative team approach to solve problems, establish priorities, create plans and work towards fulfilling them.
Furgiuele is starting a 3-year mandate on July 1st. While she admits that she will miss teaching in the classroom, her enthusiasm is infectious; her vibrant energy and readiness to learn underline that she is an excellent choice for the new job. “I am ready for this challenge, eager to fulfill my goals which are so similar to my predecessor’s: enhancing students’ experience, ensuring that their years at Glendon are fruitful, successful, enriching and happy.”
Article submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny